Ruben Ostlund Interview: ‘The Square’ director

During our recent webcam chat (watch the exclusive video above), Ruben Ostlund reveals that the idea for his new movie “The Square” came from a Swedish art exhibition of the same name. It was, he explains “a symbolic place where we are reminded about our common responsibility” to help those in need. That idea provided a jumping-off point for “a script about responsibility, about trust, about how we look at the social contract on how we behave towards each other.”

This satirical drama centers on the publicity surrounding an art exhibition, and the museum curator (Claes Bang) who finds himself in increasingly absurd situations. The film, which also stars Elisabeth Moss and Dominic West, won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It is one of the nine shortlisted films for the Foreign Language Film Oscar.

Finding a story that would encapsulate everything Ostlund wanted to say proved difficult. “These themes have so many layers to it,” he divulges. “There’s so many aspects of it that are important to make something that makes sense.” Ultimately, “I was trying to use myself as a role model for the main character, since I’m a person who believes in humanistic beliefs.” He adds, “What I wanted was to have a character that believes in those things, but at the same time, is challenged. So I was looking for a setup of situations where I felt that would be challenged.”

Ostlund’s previous film, “Force Majeure” (2014), received BAFTA and Golden Globe bids as Best Foreign Language Film, winning that prize at the Critics’ Choice Awards. And now “The Square” competed at the Golden Globes this past weekend and is nominated at Critics’ Choice on Thursday. It contends for one of five slots at the Academy Awards against “A Fantastic Woman,” “In the Fade,” “On Body and Soul,” “Foxtrot,” “The Insult,” “Loveless,” “Felicite,” and “The Wound.”

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